“Ah Kalki is back with one of her videos”
“Oh is she? All these girls will share it and give her, her two minutes of fame”
“Haan, acting nahi hui toh ab yehi karti hai”
“What’s wrong with Emma Watson man? Why can’t she just concentrate on looking hot?”
“Yeah what’s with all her namesake (read fake) feminism? All the UN Women shit. Nothing really comes out of it, does it?”
And there they were, at it again
Lunch table conversations, dinner too
What’s wrong, you might say
All in good humour, another would pitch in
Learn to take a joke, they’d all say in unison
And yet, we never joked about men making rotis all day
Even in jest, “how did you step out of the kitchen?” to a man, no one would ever say
What could be a better reflection of our mindset than a light-hearted joke
Of stereotypes, the fire you stoke
The stay-at-home dad is laughed upon
The working mother, chided
‘Don’t raise your voice to your husband” the daughter indoctrinated
“I allowed my wife to work after marriage” he proclaims
Expects the society to hold him in high regard for the same
Excuse me, you ‘allowed’ her, you say?
Like your parents allowed you to live and get married?
Like your dog allowed you to go to work every morning?
You own your wife much like your parents and your dog own you
Hold them in high regard for letting you live, won’t you?
You think a woman is your property, like clay is to a potter
To suit your every need, she can be shaped and even slaughtered
What do we do with technological progress
when our women still live in duress?
You say “India raped Pakistan in the match yesterday”
I retort, you just glorified rape as a victory and filled the rapist with pride
“It’s a joke, can you chill”, I get in reply
But how do I take it easy, I ask
How can I expect an uneducated farmer to send his daughter to school
when my educated friends think that cracking rape jokes is cool?
What was she doing out so late at night?
Why didn’t she put up a fight?
As the public, to judge her character, you think is your birth right
On your own moral standards, why don’t you try shining a light?
She was raped; her body violated, honour lost
She was left there to die in the frost
I thought honour was about being respectable and holding one’s head high
Oh girl, they’d rather see you rot and die, than hold your head up and fly high
Who is to blame for all of this? Society, we all say
But, who is society and what is it?
Is it not you and me and others living in mediocrity?
We couldn’t set our daughters free
So we judge others who let their daughters dream
Society thrives on conformance
The judgemental aunty is scared
Your daughter refused to settle, she dared
The neighbourhood uncle disapproves
‘Patriarchy is for my benefit’, his mind rues
We all want to help and change the way ‘society’ treats women
But what do we do?
We wait around for an epiphany to strike us like a flash of light?
To show us the way and tell us what’s right?
Or we wait for the government to launch a grand scheme?
A country for women, we all like to dream
We sit and wait
While we wait, we crack a joke or two about rape
While we wait, 9 on 10 that girl we rate
While we wait, a jibe or two at feminism we take
We like to think we believe in equality at heart
We tell ourselves a joke can cause no harm
We laugh that feminism is just another storm that’ll soon be calm
But we will still think we believe in equality at heart
We teach our daughters to be submissive and ‘sanskari’
To cook, clean and become an ideal ‘bhaartiya naari’
We tell them rape is a result of their ‘skin show’
If raped, we tell them to protect their honour and lie low
But we still think we believe in equality at heart
We forget equality is not a privilege, it is a right
We think feminism is a fight for the feminists to fight
We think we’re too small a fish in the pond, to exert any might
But we forget, all we need to change is ourselves and what’s in our sight
We don’t need to launch protests and take on the law
We don’t need to sign petitions and highlight the system’s flaws
If we could make feminism our own fight,
support a rape victim to walk with her head held high
If we could raise our daughters and sons right,
not joke about feminism and the fight for equality in everyday life
If we could each do this every day of our lives,
We could probably show the path of equality, a ray of light.